Old Ideas by by Leonard Cohen

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Over 40 years since his first album and eight years since his last, Leonard Cohen at age 77 has just released a new one. Recorded after a 2008-2010 world tour, the album echoes themes familiar to his legion of fans. The intensity of the world-weary Old Ideas may be more than new listeners can bear.

His gravelly, ravaged voice, dominant on the album, is reminiscent of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and the older Johnny Cash. Like anOld Testament prophet descending the mountaintop, Cohen wedges proclamations between apocalypse and atonement.

Raised as a Jew, Cohen is now a Buddhist monk. His lyrics ask the big human questions. Claiming that he is “never to lament casually,” this recording can be received as a 21st-century version of psalms of lament. It is an album of “old ideas,” modern spirituals of questions and yearnings—“a manual for living with defeat.” (Columbia)

About the Author

Robert N. Hosack is Executive Editor for Baker Publishing Group, and he is a member of Church of the Servant CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.